Consumer Guarantees – reimaging redress for consumers

Consumer groups welcomed the consultation on improving the effectiveness of the consumer guarantee and supplier indemnification provisions under the Australian Consumer Law.

Ideally, under the Australian Consumer Law, products and services come with a guarantee that they are of acceptable quality, safe with no faults and fit-for-purpose. And when these are not met, consumers are entitled to a remedy such as a refund, repair, replacement, cancelling the service and/or being compensated for damages and loss.

However, despite this regime being in place for over 10 years, many consumers are still unable to access the right support or redress when things go wrong. For consumers who do try to enforce their consumer guarantee rights, it ultimately can cost them time and money and may not eventuate in a remedy that they are legally entitled too.

Consumer groups are supportive of a civil prohibition for failing to provide a consumer guarantee remedy and have called for strong civil penalties complemented by active enforcement that will help deter businesses from not actioning a remedy for major faults.

While there is value in education and guidance for consumers in addition to civil penalties, consumer groups called for development of targeted, long-term education and communication programs instead of stand-alone, one-off campaigns which are unlikely to increase the consumer awareness and understanding of exercising their rights under the consumer guarantees regime. Any form of education and guidance should also be complemented with the right support for consumers to effectively seek redress, which should include access to alternative dispute resolution purposes that are fit for purchase, quick and affordable for consumers.

Check out consumer group submissions by:

Prepared by CFA Executive Member Chandni Gupta, of the Consumer Policy Research Centre (CPRC).

Enjoy this article? Sign up to our monthly newsletter and stay up to date on the latest consumer policy news.